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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I had a chance to see Leonard's 47 foot SV Hawk and Jimmy Cornell's new Exploration 45 by Garcia yachts at the Annapolis Sailboat show last week.

What struck me is that two sets of people with a mind boggling number of miles under their keels all over the globe eventually settled on aluminum.

Would like to discuss the pros and cons of (modern) aluminum hulls.

Some potential areas to consider (not exhaustive):
Cost, repairability, repairability in remote areas, maintanence, cost of maintanence, hull life and lifecycle , suitability for different climates, sailing performance, collision protection, crew comfort

Josh
 

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the pointy end is the bow
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If I had a ton of money and didn't care how long I had to make my boat last, I might go with an aluminum boat. They have the ability to survive some serious boo-boos. But, if I planned on keeping my boat for many years, I'd be a little worried about the ability to make hull repairs once the aluminium starts to get dirty. We had an aluminum boat at work that became unrepairable within 15 years, because the small cracks could no longer be welded. I don't know if that's typical or not, but it opened my eyes that maybe aluminum isn't the maintenance free wonder material after all.
 

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No hull material is perfect, but in my view aluminium is the best apart from initial cost.

Repair is easy and importantly the repair is the same as the original.

Some small aluminium boats are constructed out of such thin skin thickness that re-welding is not possible. Some high speed aluminium boats are built out of thin skin thicknesses where fatigue is a factor.

These factors are not a problem for aluminium cruising yachts.
 

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Take a look here, this (covers a lot of your questions):
S/V Hawk

The only concern I would have is that if you are in a marina or on mooring a lot of the time, you may have electorolysis problems especially if the harbor is "hot" (a lot of boats or docks leaking electricity). It seems most of the all aluminum hulled boats spend most time in the high latitudes away from other boats and marinas. If I was a full time cruiser and spent most of my time away from "hot" areas I would definitely consider. As I understand the French are big on the all aluminum hulled boats- they normall do not paint top side or deck to cut down on maintenance.

Also the boat must be fabricated from marine grade aluminum (5000 series if I remember right). It is much more corrosion resistant than the stuff at say a hardware store.
 

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Aluminum sail boats in Europe have been sitting around in marinas for many years and European marinas on the most part are pretty shabby and poorly built. Electrical leakage can happen at marinas but aluminum sailboats built properly with hulls at 10 mm, built out of 5000 aluminum and with proper zinks will be just fine.

We have taken our Boreal and put her on the hard in Panama as a precaution to marina problems but we were leaving her there for 6 months unattended.

All the Ovnis, Garcias and Boreals are built strong and as long as you are aware that something could happen to a long term unattended boat you should be fine.
 

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Aluminum sail boats in Europe have been sitting around in marinas for many years and European marinas on the most part are pretty shabby and poorly built. Electrical leakage can happen at marinas but aluminum sailboats built properly with hulls at 10 mm, built out of 5000 aluminum and with proper zinks will be just fine.

We have taken our Boreal and put her on the hard in Panama as a precaution to marina problems but we were leaving her there for 6 months unattended.

All the Ovnis, Garcias and Boreals are built strong and as long as you are aware that something could happen to a long term unattended boat you should be fine.
Great looking boat...
 

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You have to be meticulous about avoiding dropping certain metal off cuts inside the hull. The usual culprit is pieces of copper wire dropped during an electrical installation.

This is what happens if you don't take care with copper.


OR



The young girl did find a welder and is currently sailing the boat.
 

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...................Would like to discuss the pros and cons of (modern) aluminum hulls...............

Josh
Panope is not modern by design or age (welded up in '76) but offers an example of longevity that is applicable to other aluminum boats.

-Boat has been in salt water for 19 years (always in an electrified marina) and on the hard for another 19.

-Never had any hull thinning or pitting below waterline. Did have some paint bubbling near a bobstay tang that was partially immersed for 18 years but no pitting.

-Hull, deck and house plating is all original with no patches.

-I found a small area (the size of a hand) of pitting (25% of plate thickness) on the coach roof sides that resulted from the installation of bronze (a total no-no an an aluminum boat) port holes.

-Original engine beds were poorly engineered (by a welder dude that my father hired). After several thousand engine hours a small (couple inches) crack formed in the hull skin where the engine bed made contact. Repair took a couple hours and was as good has new.

-Bilges are filled with lead and cement so copper pennys and wire cut-offs are not a problem unless they somehow (magic?) make their way aft to the sump area. Even then it is not much concern with an occasional clean up with a shop-vac.

-Bone dry interieior always. No condensation (careful, blown in foam is very flammable) and no deck leaks - ever. In my opinion this is the best reason to have an aluminum boat.

-Never had any shore power connection. I believe that if best practices are followed (isolation transformers etc.), then a shore power connection can be safely executed. Neither my father or myself have bothered to try.

-Boat still has the original paint under coatings. Only spot priming and top coating have been needed.

-The material is very easy to modify. Cuts and shapes easily with woodworking tools. I have successfully executed massive changes to this vessel's basic structure without formal re-engineering.

-Vessel is very stiff. No groaning or creaking inspite of my best efforts (with a skillsaw and sawsall) to weaken the structure:D

Steve
 

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My last aluminum boat, a Starcraft Mariner, 18-foot center console powerboat, made of 60/1,000, T-6 marine aluminum, it was riveted and welded, and essentially fell apart after four years of use in salt water. Rivets popped out every day, leaving 1/4-inch holes where water shot into the boat like tiny fire hoses. I had one day where 20 rivets popped while I was in the Marquesses keys fishing for permit - thought I would never make it back to Key West alive.

Starcraft replaced the entire hull, and I sold the boat a week later to someone who said it would be used only in freshwater lakes. I vowed I would never purchase another aluminum boat again. I kept my promise!

Gary :cool:
 

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How is it easy to repair an aluminium hull?

Even with a TIG welder the successful welding of thin aluminium is a specialised skill even if you do happen to have the right welder and adequate electricity on your boat.

No way I'd ever be convinced that a crack on an aluminium boat would be easier to fix than epoxying a crack in a GRP hull, especially in a place like the Marshall Islands.

I accept that a properly welded repair is more durable than a epoxy-putty patch job but easier? No way.

Perhaps if you are staying in a marina in a large city . . . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Stumbled upon this good old boat article:

http://www.goodoldboat.com/reader_services/articles/steelboat.php

Gary: Maybe the 6000 Alu was part of the issue, perhaps combined with thinner material since it was a power boat?

Sounds like newer boats benefit from lessons learned with materials. The right Alu and thickness should be ok.

Side note: Noticed Cornell's boat is for sale, the GE 45 on YW

Didn't realize Alu was heavily used in commercial vessels, but did spot a 400+ Alu Navy catamaran at the Baltimore Sailabration this year.

Josh
 

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You have to be meticulous about avoiding dropping certain metal off cuts inside the hull. The usual culprit is pieces of copper wire dropped during an electrical installation.

This is what happens if you don't take care with copper.

UNTIE THE LINES #24 - A Bottomless Pit - YouTube
I read your post last night and checked out this link which turned out to be a full blown video blog that's been updated weekly for a year. It sure brought back a lot of memories of my refit and I watched all 44 videos of this young lady's quest to solo cruising. Thanks for the link!!
 

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My wife and I had a chance to see Leonard's 47 foot SV Hawk and Jimmy Cornell's new Exploration 45 by Garcia yachts at the Annapolis Sailboat show last week.

What struck me is that two sets of people with a mind boggling number of miles under their keels all over the globe eventually settled on aluminum.

Would like to discuss the pros and cons of (modern) aluminum hulls.

Some potential areas to consider (not exhaustive):
Cost, repairability, repairability in remote areas, maintanence, cost of maintanence, hull life and lifecycle , suitability for different climates, sailing performance, collision protection, crew comfort

Josh
The fact that not only those but almost all that sail voyage boats, specially in lonely places and high latitudes, if they could, would chose an aluminium boat answers your question: They are the better option. The other option is steel but a steel boat is much heavier and therefore does not sail well in light winds, has more maintenance work and a very poor resale value.

It deserves to be pointed out that Jimmy Cornell chose an aluminium boat (again) after having circumnavigating previously in one (an OVNI 43).

Regarding your questions much of the answers are here answered by Cornell himself:

OVNI Yachts FAQ - Cornell Sailing Events & Publications

http://www.blue-yachting.de/2007/de...llures 45/Allures 45 ENG by Jimmy Cornell.pdf

Cornell's boat is an expensive one but OVNI, Allures and Boreal are not expensive for what they offer.
 

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One issue that two of my cruising friends were faced with was finding highly competent alloy welders. Both spent considerable time in finding the "right" guy. One was in the first world and another in the third world. It may not be just pulling into any old boat yard to get your repairs done.
 

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Hi Hannah:), what is the address of your blog? (you can put it on the bottom of your posts) i am interested and I think I am not the only one;)
Hi Palo,
Nice to hear from you, hope you had a great summer sailing. We have the boat in Panama as it is a great place to hang sure beats the ugly E. Caribbean. Not sure what we will do this season stay here and go home for summer again or move on and slowly work our way to the jungle rivers of PNG and Borneo.

Website is rclouise.com or just google rclouise unvarnished.

Cheers

Steve
 

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No hull material is perfect, but in my view aluminium is the best apart from initial cost.

Repair is easy and importantly the repair is the same as the original.
As a previous post indicated, that is not the case. It is very difficult to weld 'dirty' aluminium.
 

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You have to be meticulous about avoiding dropping certain metal off cuts inside the hull. The usual culprit is pieces of copper wire dropped during an electrical installation.
----
Now I know why I was advised long ago to never lose a penny in the bilge of an aluminum boat.
 
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